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Violating Sanctions

An American Woman’s Listening Tour Through the Axis of Evil

There’s No Place Like Home

The Author By Kelly Hayes-Raitt | July 13th, 2008 | Comments No Comments

Her gold sparkly shoes remind me of Dorothy’s ruby slippers.
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There’s no place like home keeps running through my mind as I attempt to interview the slight 10-year-old in her school principal’s claustrophobic office. In a valiant attempt to ease the heat, an overhead fan jerks as nervously as the fingers in the girl’s lap.

But there is no easing the tension. “They told her father, if you don’t leave the country, we will kill you. They cut his finger. The Americans cut his finger,” the translator, a psychologist at the school, repeats, somewhat confused.

“They cut off his finger?” I ask, hoping I’m equally confused.

The girl points to her right index finger, slicing across the bottom knuckle.

Where do you go from here in an interview? We’d already established she was forced out of the third grade 9 months ago when her family fled Kulkush in northern Iraq a week after her father was maimed and that she likes geography.
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I look down at her sequined shoes, and learn they’d been given to her in Syria at a church giveaway program. I notice the bald spots where they’ve lost their luster and the worn threads that struggle to hold them together.
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